Duke volleyball player’s allegation of racial apathy draws opposition from witnesses: report

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Witnesses reportedly came forward saying no racial insults were heard during last Friday’s BYU-Duke women’s volleyball match, with Blue Devils’ only black initiator Rachel Richardson saying she was harassed throughout the “whole match”.

Richardson said in a statement that BYU officials were not quick enough to address the situation upon the initial grievance from the bench cocks. BYU noted that the cheerleader, who the Salt Lake Tribune said was a Utah Valley University student sitting in the student section, was banned from all sports fields on campus.

A source within the BYU Sports Department said, “Ms. Richardson complained of hearing racial slur during the second set but did not mention anyone. Officials discussed the police for a while briefly and stationed there… There were no more complaints until after the match.”

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NCAA logos are displayed during the Division I women’s volleyball semifinals games held at the PPG Paints Arena on December 19, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA photos via Getty Images)

The Chronicle spoke to several of the students seated in the student section during the match and claimed that they “heard absolutely nothing” and that the banned fan did not shout racial slur before being escorted out of the game.

A BYU spokesperson told Fox News Digital what they can confirm about the incident at Smith Fieldhouse last Friday:

Immediately before the start of the third match, Duke first reported that racial slurs had been heard.

No one has been identified.

Four event staff members were dispatched to speak with the Student Section and an officer in uniform.

– There were no complaints made by Duke for the remainder of the match.

Duke did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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A BYU Athletics official said the fan exited Smith Fieldhouse due to “interference with guests,” not because of shouting racial slurs.

Brigham Young University officials said several sports staff had viewed footage of the game and had not yet found any evidence of racist insults being yelled at.

Detail image of the Duke Blue Devils flag during the national anthem before the game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats during the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Detail image of the Duke Blue Devils flag during the national anthem before the game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats during the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
(Chris Grethen/Getty Images)

“Several BYU Athletics employees reviewed video from BYUtv and other cameras at the facility that the volleyball team can access to review the film,” BYU officials said in a statement. “This has been ongoing since the match directly on Friday night. The person who was banned is the person that Duke identified as using racial insults. However, we were unable to find any evidence that this person used insults in the match.”

The investigation is still ongoing, with Brigham Young University Police Lieutenant George Besendorfer confirming that initial footage did not show the person was forbidden to shout anything while Richardson was serving.

There is also a police report from the BYU Police Station. Sgt. Richard Lorsen, who stood by the banned fan throughout the fourth set, said the man may have (A) sparger syndrome or could have autism, according to Deseret News.

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Brigham Young University’s athletics official also told the student-led newspaper at Brigham Young University that the man had mental problems.

“When a fan with an intellectual disability approached a Duke player, the Duke team suddenly recognized the disabled man’s voice as the same as shouting,” a BYU Athletics official told The Chronicle. “They never saw a face or pointed it out, just a voice. They banned this guy. Not for slander, but for interfering with visiting guests. BYU Athletics staff watched footage from the entire match and the guy identified by Duke never sat in the student section. Her story doesn’t add Something, Brigham University banned an innocent man to please the mob and get rid of their PR mess.While I don’t know if Ms. Richardson really got something wrong or made up this story on purpose, it certainly doesn’t constitute the criticism BYU got.No There is no evidence for the slander that was said. Not a single witness appeared, besides Ms. Richardson. Not a single cell phone video or BYUtv’s many camera angles captured a single thing. How improbable when this person is supposed to have said slander during ‘every transmission’.

A general view of LaVell Edwards Stadium before the game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on September 9, 2017 in Provo, Utah.

A general view of LaVell Edwards Stadium before the game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on September 9, 2017 in Provo, Utah.
(Jane Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

Richardson’s godmother, Lisa Pamplin, claimed in a tweet that the volleyball player was called racial slur “every time she serves.” Pamplin also tweeted that Richardson was threatened by a white man who told her to “watch her as she heads to the team bus.”

A police report obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune said a threatening voicemail was also left for the BYU coach on Sunday. The same police report said Duke’s coaches identified the blocked man as the person who allegedly yelled the n-word at Richardson from the student section.

Brigham Young University Athletic Director Tom Holmo asked students to provide information they had about the accident.

The university issued a statement last Saturday, saying, “BYU Athletics is fully committed to leadership in the abandonment of attitudes and acts of prejudice of any kind and the eradication of racism.”

A general view of LaVell Edwards Stadium before the game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on September 9, 2017 in Provo, Utah.

A general view of LaVell Edwards Stadium before the game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars on September 9, 2017 in Provo, Utah.
(Jane Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

“To say that we are deeply disappointed by the actions of a small number of fans at last night’s volleyball match at Smith Fieldhouse between BYU and Duke is not strong enough language. We will not tolerate behavior of this kind.”

Richardson spoke on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Tuesday and claimed that by the fourth set, the insults had escalated.

“Even my fellow blacks who were on the bench, who weren’t playing, were called up, pointed out, and it was really baffling as to why. That’s when the racial insults and harassment got more and more intense,” she said.

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“We stand against any form of racism, bigotry or hate,” Duke Volleyball said in a statement on Sunday. “As a program we have worked extensively to create an inclusive and safe environment where our student-athletes feel heard and supported but are not naïve to the fact that there is always work to be done.”

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